Review: Sonic the Hedgehog (~5 hours, Sega Genesis)

The 90’s were a simpler time.

I didn’t play Sonic the Hedgehog 1 or 2 to the end until it was available for smartphones. Christian Whitehead built an engine, the Retro Engine, which re-created old Sonic titles and improved them, for example by including widescreen graphics and giving Sonic the spin-dash in Sonic 1, which wasn’t part of the move set in the 1991 game. Unfortunately, these two games never made it to PC, but I had a great time with the Android version. As Mario’s biggest rival, Sonic was a graphical showpiece most of all, but has a more arcade-y feel, and can be finished in less time.

Again, the original Sonic 1 did not have the spin-dash. That came in Sonic 2, though the re-release lets you spin-dash now. There are seven zones. With the exception of “Final Zone,” each zone has three “Acts,” and Dr. Robotnik, the main villain of the series, appears in Act 3 in the form of a boss fight. Final Zone is simply the final boss, which is Dr. Robotnik. The Zones having Acts idea has stayed with the series even through the Game Boy Advance games and Sonic 4.

Green Hill Zone would become emblematic of the 2D games, a stage filled with plant life and water. It is followed by the similar Emerald Hill Zone in the sequel Sonic 2. Marble Zone goes underground, and it’s a lot of time spent riding on blocks that cross rivers of lava. Star Light Zone has seesaws that launch you with a spiked weight on the other side, and robots that explode near you. Generally, the level variety is good, but the most iconic Sonic game for Genesis is Sonic 2. Those levels are burned into my mind. Here we see Genesis displaying graphical superiority to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in some ways. Unfortunately background art is a bit rough, but parallax scrolling is a nice touch.

The same issue in almost every Sonic game is in this Sonic game: getting hit and losing your rings is awful. It’s awful in two ways. One, you need to scrounge for new rings, and if you get hit before you get one, you die. Two, the game scores you in an Act on total rings collected. Getting hit and ending a level with half as many rings as you could have collected is a bummer. This problem persists to this day. To be fair, this game has a good number of barriers you can pick up. If you get hit, you lose your barrier, not your rings.

Final notes are that the bonus levels are fun, and the music there is superb. You are on a spinning course attempting to get the chaos emerald in the center. It appears the remake lets you play as Knuckles and Tails, but I don’t have those characters unlocked. Maybe I did once but the save data was lost. Sonic 2 is the real classic, if only because it was bundled with a lot of Genesis’s. The final boss fight isn’t too hard in this title. It’s free with ads, and $2 without. Just enjoy it.

4/5

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3 comments

  1. It is a little strange returning to the original Sonic the Hedgehog because many mainstays, such as the Spin Dash as you mention, are not present. Nonetheless, I feel it was a perfectly good series debut. In some ways, I actually like it more than its sequel.

    Liked by 1 person

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